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Girl, Interrupted | Study Guide

Susanna Kaysen

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Girl, Interrupted | Ice Cream | Summary



Shortly after Daisy's suicide, the girls, accompanied by more nurses than usual, are taken into town for ice cream. Susanna is distracted by the black-and-white tile pattern of the floor in the ice cream parlor, while the other girls turn ordering different ice cream flavors into sexually explicit bantering.


The contrasting patterns of theblack-and-white tile floor at the ice cream parlor present a challenge to Susanna. On a metaphorical level, the black-and-white tiles represent absolute opposites, such as truth and falsehood, reality and fiction, right and wrong, good and bad. The tiles don't allow for gray scales, for the moral ambiguities between these opposites. Susanna's indecision and uncertainty, defined as a symptom of her mental disorder, take on a different significance. They are not symptoms of madness, but instead acknowledge that the decision between true and false, right and wrong may be relative to people's different situations and points of view.

The girls' silly banter about "peppermint dick" and the server's unintended pun when he asks if the girls want nuts on their ice cream are an example of Susanna Kaysen's ability to find unexpected, even poignant humor in the girls' situation. Nuts is slang for testicles, but is also a pejorative term for being mentally ill.

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